Picture One Less Leg: A pity party

Today is the day.

If you’ve heard any of my recent podcast interviews as of late, you’ve probably heard me talk about this day – this indulgent day of self-pity and grief.

I need a day like this – a day to sleep and cry and walk and scream at the cows – every six or eight months. Sometimes the cow is a friend. Wait. Nope. That was a (terrible) metaphor. Sorry Kath. You are definitely not a cow.

Anyway, yesterday I hit the wall.

First off, thanks to pesky symptoms and ongoing disease, medical appointments have been flooding in. After sorting some things at my GP’s office a week or so ago, I came home to a postbox rammed with medical mail. Six envelopes, to be exact. They included appointments for my endocrinologist; ophthalmologist for three eye diseases; gastro-enterrologist; a diabetes nurse. The other two envelopes contained info about my (then) upcoming MRI and nerve conduction tests ordered by a neurologist after I saw him a couple of weeks ago.

Then, two days ago, I had that spinal MRI and it was brutal. I’ve had a lot of MRI’s in my day, and this had to be the worst. Five minutes in, I developed a migraine with intense nausea. For the next forty minutes I lay there, willing myself not to vomit as I gasped for fresh air. My hand clutched the call button, and it took every thought and breath not to push it, desperate to get out. The only thing holding me back was knowing a tiny break would not cure the agony, and would just prolong the test when they slid me back in.

But I couldn’t do it. Throwing up was surely seconds away. Just as I gave myself permission to press the button (And disqualify me from being an ‘exemplary patient.’ This is important to me and it’s stupid.), the table beneath me shifted and delivered me into the light. (Clearly not that light. I’m still here.) They ran for a sick bowl, I drank some water, took way too long in the change room, and then drove myself home. (Not recommended. But thankfully my car knew the way.)

Then yesterday I had an emotional therapy session and then the nerve conduction test. The shooting of electricity up my already frayed nerves I could manage. The needle into my engaged muscles wasn’t pleasant, but I’ve had brain surgery so no biggee there.

But when the doctor gave me the results, in his soothing, gentle voice that felt like a supportive hug, it was too much. It’s silly, really, because he ruled out the nasty ‘rare condition’ the neurologist suspected, so it was good news.

But then he said, “Susanne, I’d call the neuropathy in your feet and legs ‘moderate.’”

“Measured as ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’?” I asked.


Again. Not the worst news, and I already knew I had some neuropathy. But as I sat upright with my legs sprawled in front of me on the examination bed, all I could see was my uncle Ivan and his missing leg. He too had neuropathy from diabetes and lost his leg to amputation. He passed away a couple of years later.

And then there was that stack of medical post on my kitchen island with my name on it.

Maybe my watery eyes weren’t so silly after all.

And that brings me to today – sitting in a coffee shop wiping my eyes and blowing my nose and feeling very overwhelmed – sad.

But as I’ve said in those podcasts, it’s okay. Because when I hit the wall I gift myself a day – a day to feel all of my feelings. Even if it means making a fool of myself in my local village while writing a self-indulgent blog post.

And based on history, I’ve no doubt that tomorrow will not feel so sad or overwhelming. I’ll push the buttons on my insulin pump without resentment and only a little fear, and I’ll sit in the sun and play with words on my latest project. Maybe I’ll write a song. I’ll be able to smile, whatever my day looks like.

Today is not yet over though, and so I’m gonna wrap this up and find a cow. Or much better, Kath. She’s a much better listener.